SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 29, 2015
Sunrise, science and surprises!
32° 38.5’N x 16° 54.9’W
Alongside the dock in Funchal!
At home, I rarely wake up before nine if I can help it, but at sea the sun and I rise together. This morning begins with an especially delicious sunrise. Melted butter spilling out over the silhouette of the Madieran archipelago. As the sun makes its careful progress upwards, the early morning light is reflected back at us from Madiera’s windowed houses, dotting the hillside with beacons of gold. Land at long last.
After eight days at sea, the proximity of land is both exciting and daunting. Posted at lookout during morning watch, I gaze at the dramatic cliffs and upward slope of the island before us (only 4 nautical miles away!) and can’t help but feel thrilled with the possibility of exploring a new landscape. I put my musings aside in the name of science and make my way forward towards the lab.
Hove-to on a port tack, the science deck is abuzz with activity in preparation for the morning station. The secchi disk is lowered over the side and we all stick our heads out, yelling “sight!” until it disappears into the blue depths of the Atlantic. Once the secchi is safely back on board Rita and Chief sci Chuck expertly wrestle the CTD into the water, which, with the command of “wire lower,” is released in pursuit of data. Next is the neuston tow, which requires us to bring the boat to a speed of two knots (no small feat considering the complete lack of wind), and we are soon immersed in a discussion about how best to accomplish this. “Ease the main sheet and then set the jib if that doesn’t do the job?” “Set the jib first?” “Ease the staysails?” While we debate and weigh our options, time is ticking, we have to get the net out of the water by lunch time. After a few false starts and some minor butting of heads, the main sheet is eased and the Cramer begins slow progress forward on a beam reach. However, our hull speed is not nearly two knots so we put our heads together once again and eventually we pick up on a few hints dropped by our watch officer (thanks Willy!) and bring our staysails midships where they have more draw. This (and the building breeze) does the trick, pulling our “neusty” gracefully through the water with the frame a desirable 12 in, 12 out.
With a successful morning station behind us, lunch awaits! The bell ringing for second seating has us salivating like Pavlov’s dogs, and we charge below decks to consume the delicious meal put forth by our awesome stewards Nick and Sarah. Full and content, we would normally have class and then be free until mid watch at 2300, but afternoon class brings a surprise: we will be heading to port one day earlier then expected, which means “all hands” until we are secure at the dock. Armed with fenders and docklines we work together to bring the ship safely into the port of Funchal where we will be staying for the next few days before heading on to our final destination in Gran Canaria. I haven’t yet had a chance to venture off the ship and explore, but tomorrow I plan to head out in search of a café con leche (or the Portuguese equivalent) and see what adventures unfold in this beautiful port city!
P.S. Big hello to all my friends and family! Don’t worry mom- I am taking photos, I promise. Much love to you all and don’t forget to give Bearbear a hug from me!